How Chat GPT and AI advances will be game changers for the food industry – Tech Talks to feature at Fine Food Australia

Aug 29, 2023

With the food and foodservice industry continuing to transform at a rapid pace, presentations about AI, ChatGPT and technology are anticipated to be widely attended at Fine Food Australia this year.

New presentation series, Talking Tech, sponsored by Square, will share expert insights into making operations for foodservice and hospitality easier, more efficient and more profitable. Session topics will delve into restaurant technology in action, how generative AI is transforming the space, and whether AI is a threat to the personal touch of dining out.

Talking Trends, sponsored by Food Industry Foresight, will also highlight the value of iPads and cutting-edge software in the kitchen as well as developments in innovation, IoT, automation and robotics in foodservice and product development.

The event, held at Sydney’s ICC over two exhibition floors from 11-14 September, will feature more than 850 exhibitors and over 100 speakers. This year’s Hospitality and Retail Technology exhibitors, showcased on the upper-level, include leading providers Square, Triniteq, Zeller Australia, Quandoo, Payoneer, Pronto Software, Lightspeed and more.

Fine Food Australia Event Manager, Andrew Lawson, said being across new and existing technology is invaluable for any operator in the food, beverage and foodservice industry. “This was key in our decision to introduce the Talking Tech stage to our audience. New tech gives businesses opportunity to differentiate in the marketplace, streamline processes and thereby improve efficiency and operating costs.”

The rising importance of ChatGPT

Tim Kummerfeld from hospitality and restaurant business consultancy, Foodie Coaches, who are leading Talking Tech panel discussion Using AI to Boost Business Profits said Chat GPT is a game-changer for the restaurant industry. “We started playing around with Chat GPT right away and introduced it to our members in April,” he said. “The two biggest areas it’s currently assisting in is any aspect where writing is required and replacing internet browsing. It’s much more efficient than wading through multiple websites and links, especially if it’s a topic you’re not familiar with.

“ChatGPT is being used in marketing, policies, procedures, responding to guests, menus, checklists, staff correspondence, supplier negotiations, developing onboarding and training tools and just about every other aspect.

“You ask any hospitality owner what their number one problem is and 90 per cent would say, they can’t find good people. Admin is such a drag on productivity and, frankly, the mental health of business owners.  So, this tool, like dishwashing machines and bins on wheels will make life easier, improve productivity and improve the customer experience. There are ethical questions around AI for sure, but these types of applications are not in that arena.”

Fellow panel speaker Ashlinn Reid from Canberra café, Stella’s By The Lake, said her business has used ChatGPT to great effect. “For review replies I’ll copy the review and put it into ChatGPT and ask it to create a detailed response, and it will highlight words mentioned in the reviews to personalise it more,” said Ms Reid. “We have even asked ChatGPT for a code of conduct. We used all the relevant points from four different codes of conducts to create our own.

“ChatGPT has changed so much for me as time is a big thing. I can get my content schedule done two times faster now that I don’t have to sit there and come up with captions. The best thing is that, if you don’t like what ChatGPT has provided, you can ask for it to write up something different.”

AI is here to stay

Business futurist Craig Rispin from The Future Trends Group, presenting The hottest AI apps to transform your food business as part of Talking Trends, will delve into everything from smart inventory management tools which predict demand, to AI-powered recipe developers creating innovative menus.

“People in the industry should not be afraid of AI – the technology won’t replace all jobs, it will just be more the case of a person doing a job alongside AI,” he said. “AI has the power to increase productivity 10-fold or even 100-fold for every computing task.”

Mr Rispin said there are currently numerous examples of successful industry apps. “AI Palette’s predictive analytics software enables companies to track trends in real time, using data mining and machine learning to forecast future events, thereby reducing costs of creating new food products. Symphony Retail AI also utilises AI to enhance food supply chain efficiency, transparently price items, and optimally dispatch them to customers, leading to cost savings and reduced food waste.”

Mr Rispin added that he also has his own AI assistant called Athena and predicted this would become more commonplace in the future for busy business operators. “Athena helps me scan 1 million data sources worldwide, so I can forecast into any industry or major topic in minutes. I think everyone in the food industry needs their own AI assistant to make them appear to be superhuman, like I do to my clients who are some of the largest food industry companies worldwide.”

Technology training advances

Sven Almenning from Speakeasy Group which includes top Sydney venues Eau-de-Vie and The Sanderson, as well as Melbourne’s Mjolner and Boilermaker House, will also be part of the panel discussion Training Tech on the Talking Tech stage, explaining how cafe and restaurant owners can use digital solutions for fast, effective onboarding and training.

Mr Almenning successfully launched Ananas, an online training and staff management platform for the hospitality industry. There are various applications, including use as an onboarding and training tool for new staff, tracking training progress and setting up tailored training programs for each staff member. There are also editable onboarding document templates released each week.

“This has greatly contributed to transparency and trackability when it comes to staff movements,” he said. “And rather than lots of phone calling or emailing, it’s really streamlined everything.”

Mr Lawson said Fine Food Australia is thrilled to have the support of an internationally recognised tech brand like Square this year and to showcase such a high level of innovation and knowledge at this year’s event.

The Talking Tech stage is located on the Upper Exhibition Halls, to attend these sessions and many more, register now for Fine Food Australia.

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